A rash of burglaries last fall in which stolen vehicles were used to smash through storefronts to take ATMs came about at the same time Spokane saw a rise in car thefts.
The crime spree was carried out in a manner similar to a string of ATM thefts in early 2009. Three men have been charged in connection with eight of the early 2009 burglaries, but the later burglaries remain mostly unsolved except for two heists in December connected to a 33-year-old Spokane man.
Tips, fingerprints, surveillance photos and detective work led investigators to identify longtime felon Keith G. Simpson, 44, and Christopher S. Carden, 36, as suspects in the earlier spree.
The men are charged with 20 counts of theft, burglary and malicious mischief for eight hits on businesses between Jan. 4 and Jan. 20, 2009.
Mychal L. Wahl, 20, is charged with three counts of first-degree theft along with Simpson and Carden for alleged ATM heists at Five Mile Heights Pizza and the Double Dribble Tavern.
In all but one case, the men are accused of crashing vehicles into storefronts, towing away the expensive ATMs and looting them of thousands of dollars in cash.
The only theft that didn’t target an ATM helped police identify the men as suspects after a stolen credit card was used at an Office Depot. A store employee identified Carden’s girlfriend, Deborah Gariepy, as the woman who used the card. Gariepy is Wahl’s mother.
Police say the card was stolen from the Fellowship of God church, along with a safe that was found dumped off Aubrey L. White Parkway with an ATM stolen from another business.
Charges were filed against Carden, Wahl and Simpson on Dec. 30. They have pleaded not guilty.
Police say the three men are not considered suspects in the more recent ATM heists.
In those cases, thieves used stolen vehicles to smash through storefronts. The January 2009 thefts used Simpson’s truck, according to court documents.
In December, Cephas W. Parham, 33, was arrested for allegedly smashing a pickup into a North Division Street cell phone store and trying to steal the ATM.
About 10 minutes later, the door at a nearby gas station was pried open and a display case burglarized. Parham has been charged with both break-ins.